Is a virus is a living organism?

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bandmanjoe's profile pic

bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

No.  A virus is a nonliving entity on the unicellular level that makes its existence possible by infecting living cells.  Viruses infect animal cells, plant cells, and bacterial cells.  Viruses were first discovered in 1892, with the first known viral infection of tobacco plants by the tobacco mosaic virus in 1898.  Since then thousands of known viruses have been studied and classified, although the potential exists for many more to exist.  Viruses infect a host cell and inject their DNA into the cells DNA, where it is replicated and released into other cells to repeat the process.  This replication is often at the expense of the host cell, causing its death.  Many viral infections to this day have no cure because the virus keeps evolving, changing its genetic makeup, so the medications used have to be adjusted.  The virus that causes the common cold is just as potent today as it was when I was a boy, and the only thing available to help is to drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and allow the virus to run its course in 10 to 14 days.

sanjeetmanna's profile pic

sanjeetmanna | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Its a contradictory statement whether virus is living or non living.

We cannot consider it as living because it doesnot satisfy the defination of living organism since it cannot replicate or reprouce by its own, and we cannot consider it as non living because it replicate when they are inside the cell.

Living characters of virus

  • They reproduce, but only when they inside living cell
  • They mutate.
  • They have either DNA or RNA

Non living characters of virus

  • They are acellular
  • They carry no metabolism by there own.
  • They dont have both RNA and DNA.

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